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Old 04-09-2014, 07:14 PM
 
Location: Norwalk, CT
1 posts, read 1,390 times
Reputation: 10

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Hello - In the past, have regularly reviewed posts on this forum and it has always been very helpful when I am looking for info on commutes or moving considerations. Now, its my turn to ask your opinions.

I moved to this area from Upstate NY (Rochester, NOT Westchester!) 17 years ago and when I told the NYC people I was working with that I was moving to SouthWest CT, I usually got a reaction of, "well, just don't move to Bridgeport!"

We currently rent in Norwalk CT where we have been living for the past 12 years. After the housing market ups and downs of the last several years, we are finally considering buying a house. We would LOVE to stay in Norwalk but as our child gets ready to make the move from elementary school to middle school/6th grade we have decided this would be a time to also possibly look at other towns. But none of the ones Norwalk borders are affordable. I was very very surprised to find single family home listings in Fairfield that were in our price (and taxes) range! My surprise is based on my not knowing Fairfield very well and assuming it was all an overly affluent, overpriced, non-diverse area. (My apologies to Fairfield!)

Compared to Norwalk - where we are having difficulty finding a home in our desired size and price range, the Tunxis Hill Park area of Fairfield (which borders Bridgeport?) seems to be matching a lot more of what we are looking for; Working/middle class, diverse population, "affordable", fairly close to shops and etc for our elderly mother who may need to be within walking distance of amenities … beaches and parks (which we already go to off season) that are a short drive…

But the commute may be a little hard to deal with (my spouse works in Stamford and I work in Norwalk). We both have had to commute south to NYC in years past, so we know both the 95/Merritt south bound 8am-9am traffic and the north bound 5-6pm can be a nightmare… and our son has a friends in Trumbull and Fairfield that we can't get to on a weekday during the after school evening rush hour with out sitting in Westport crush traffic… but if there are "local" backroads anyone out there knows between Fairfield and Norwalk/Stamford then the workday commute may be doable… (?)

Also, what are the current opinions of the local middle schools these days? A lot of the posts I found about Fairfield schools are from several years ago. And someone told me the schools may be off balanced diversity wise - one elementary school (it may have been McKinley?) was more predominantly black and latino? We are a mixed ethnicity family so this isn't a factor - but we just want to find a school with a family environment, a good balance of a diverse student body and one that has a reputation of caring and nurturing students.

Okay - so that's a lot for my first post! Any advice? Do you think we should venture out house hunting in Fairfield???
Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-09-2014, 07:22 PM
 
8,783 posts, read 15,198,029 times
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There's nothing wrong with Fairfield, i just wanted to point out that Bethel might be worth looking at as well.
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Old 04-09-2014, 08:08 PM
 
Location: Fairfield, CT
5,074 posts, read 7,407,730 times
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Fairfield is generally considered to have better schools than Norwalk.

If the house is in Tunxis Hill, the neighborhood school is most likely McKinley School. It is the least white of Fairfield schools, but I wouldn't say it's overwhelmingly black and latino. The percentage of black kids was in the single digits last I heard, but there are lots of latinos and other ethnic groups there, as compared to other Fairfield schools, which are heavily white.

My friend's kids went to McKinley and there were no problems with it.

Overall, Fairfield is not a diverse community but the Tunxis Hill area is the most mixed part of town. Same with McKinley. Some people embrace it for that reason, and others avoid it. I wouldn't pay too much attention either way. If you like the house and the neighborhood, I don't see a problem.

I'm not sure what to say about the middle schools. Once again, I know people whose kids went to Ludlowe and Tomlinson, and didn't have a problem with either. They'll be heavily white, much more so than McKinley, because they serve a broader part of the town.

As for the commute, would it be possible to take the train?
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Old 04-09-2014, 08:37 PM
 
Location: Coastal Connecticut
13,116 posts, read 15,683,697 times
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IMO Fairfield is a FAR superior town to Norwalk in almost every regard, except for location for a southbound commute. Fairfield to Norwalk is not a bad commute. You can make use of some back roads to make it tolerable on bad traffic days. Stamford is another story. Is work near a train station?

Bethel is a decent suggestion, pretty easy Norwalk commute, but Stamford will still be a bear.
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Old 04-09-2014, 09:47 PM
 
Location: CT, New England
678 posts, read 543,332 times
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As a minority growing up in White Fairfield County, I can tell you people, especially teachers, staff, etc, of schools are very respectful. You shouldn't have to worry about your kid not getting along with others. Honestly, if you value your ethnicity's culture, your biggest problem is your kid becoming "white-washed" to put it bluntly. This depends from family to family. I just wanted to throw a heads up, in case you were wondering. My extended family ranges from both extremes across the United States.

With that said, if your commute is in Lower Fairfield County, especially in the traffic landmine of Stamford and Norwalk, I'd try to stay near your area. I like your choice of Tunxis Hill, and I will admit I am not familiar with the area, but, Fairfield schools in general are amazing. You must understand that most towns don't vary too much with their education and the biggest bottleneck in your children's education will probably be your child. Schools in Connecticut, and especially the towns of Fairfield County are ridiculously amazing. We may discuss which one is better than the other, but, I can guarantee you that your child will have an excellent education if you decide to live in that side of Fairfield. Plus, the amenities in that region are solid. Visiting your child's friend in Trumbull should be doable, too. The only negative I can think is traffic, especially for your spouse coming from Stamford.

My other advice would be to live near Route 7 for a commute to Norwalk. Someone recommended Bethel, so, I'll go with Brookfield. I've always felt like Brookfield had the best schools compared to its bordering towns. I say this from the plenty of friends who have gone through their school system.
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:19 PM
 
Location: Coastal Connecticut
13,116 posts, read 15,683,697 times
Reputation: 2797
Quote:
Originally Posted by FutureTown View Post
My other advice would be to live near Route 7 for a commute to Norwalk. Someone recommended Bethel, so, I'll go with Brookfield. I've always felt like Brookfield had the best schools compared to its bordering towns. I say this from the plenty of friends who have gone through their school system.
Brookfield to Stamford? Ouch.

I did Brookfield to Norwalk and it was a 45 minute commute to East Norwalk off 53.

As someone that grew up in the area, I can say Brookfield schools were good, but nothing exceptional by any means.
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Old 04-10-2014, 08:20 AM
 
Location: Connecticut
22,052 posts, read 36,363,540 times
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Fairfield schools are very good. My family is from Tunxis Hill (nearly 100 years now) and it is a nice working class neighborhoods with a lot of nice modest affordable homes. The area is very safe and is an excellent option for a family looking for a safe affordable neighborhood with good schools.

McKinley School is the most diverse school in town (it always has been), but that is not saying a lot given that Fairfield is predominantly a white community. The school is 54% white, 22% Hispanic, 11% Asian, 6% black, 6% two or more races and 1% American Indian. More information on the school can be found in the website below. On my family's street, there are a few Asian Indian and some middle eastern families . I am not sure how they would be labeled in the breakdown given. Most are new to this country and appear to be hard working. They are all very nice. The thing about McKinley School diversity is not how many minorities attend the school, it is how many attend in comparison to other schools in town. This has meant the town has opened the school up to kids from other sections of town and allowed McKinley students to move to other nearby schools. This appears to have helped balance the school racially in comparison to others in town. Jay

State Department of Education - CEDaR
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Old 04-10-2014, 06:12 PM
 
Location: Northern Fairfield Co.
2,416 posts, read 1,827,840 times
Reputation: 1010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stratford, Ct. Resident View Post
There's nothing wrong with Fairfield, i just wanted to point out that Bethel might be worth looking at as well.
I second the Bethel suggestion. Solid schools, a bit more diversity than most of the other towns which surround Danbury, decent commute for you. Could be rough for your husband though, but Fairfield would be no cake walk either...
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